Review: The Recorded Drama Society – Lady Windermere’s Fan

Ed Rowett 15 October 2009

Most people’s idea of alternative drama in Cambridge stretches about as far as the Corpus Playroom. Dig a little deeper however, and you find a whole range of dramatic endeavour taking place just out of sight of the standard Cambridge drama scene, with one of the most interesting projects being the audio book group, The Recorded Drama Society, whose production of Lady Windermere’s Fan is released online this week.

 Set up in 2007, the project is still in its infancy, but already has a range of interesting productions under its belt. These include atmospheric readings of A Christmas Carol and The Raven and an original (sort of) comedy game show, the CUmedy Quiz Show, which plays very much like a cross between Radio 4’s Just A Minute and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue.

Lady Windermere’s Fan is perhaps the society’s most professional sounding production to date, boasting a fine selection of voice actors (anyone who claims they wouldn’t buy an audio book read by Harry Adamson is lying) and a well deployed array of sound effects. The ticking clock in the first scene is an atmospheric touch, while the ball room is effectively evoked by the faint strains of music and constant chatter that are always audible in the background.

Unfortunately the production is severely hampered by a lack of pace. One gets the strong impression that the actors were rarely in the same room during the recording process, for, beautifully though the lines are read, there is very little sense that the characters are actually interacting with one other. Thus, particularly in the two person scenes, the pace can be frustratingly slow, with much of Wilde’s quick wit sucked away into the voluminous pauses.

Ed Rowett